Burton, Cat Racing Team Finish 24th in the Irish Hills After racing in the top 10 for the majority of Sunday's CARFAX 400 at Michigan International Speedway, Jeff Burton and the No. 31 Cat Financial Chevrolet were involved in a wrong-place, ...
Burton, Cat Racing Team Finish 24th in the Irish Hills
After racing in the top 10 for the majority of Sunday's CARFAX 400 at Michigan International Speedway, Jeff Burton and the No. 31 Cat Financial Chevrolet were involved in a wrong-place, wrong-time incident with just under 50 laps remaining that mired them deep in the field and, ultimately, a 24th-place finish.
While the unfortunate circumstance dropped the Todd Berrier-led team four spots, to seventh, in the Sprint Cup Series point standings, they are armed with a 266-point advantage over 13th, heading into the final three races before the 12-man 2010 Chase for the Sprint Cup class is determined.
Strong performances in all three practice sessions allotted by NASCAR on Friday and Saturday demonstrated how well the Cat Financial Chevy could be in Sunday's 200-lap feature. Burton led the first practice session and backed that effort up with the fourth- and sixth-fastest times, respectively, before the team digested all the data that was gathered and produced a package suitable for the two-mile speedway.
The South Boston, Va., native rolled off the starting grid 11th, on the inside of row five, and quickly worked his way up to sixth before debris slowed the 43-car field on lap 32. Needing Berrier to tighten up the RCR entry, Burton visited pit road three laps later for a routine four-tire change, including air pressure adjustments. However, hiccups with removing the front tires cost the Cat Racing team time that left the 21-time Sprint Cup Series race winner with an 11th-place restart on lap 38.
Just prior to halfway, Burton raced between the eighth and 11th positions, which included a scheduled green-flag pit stop on lap 60 that assisted the RCR driver in cracking the top 10 at lap 80.
Long green-flag racing continued until a spin on lap 147 brought out the third of five caution flags of the day. More adjustments were made to the Cat Financial Chevy as Burton required additional grip to turn better through the 18-degree banked corners.
The August 2006 pole sitter restarted eighth on lap 152 and fell two positions by the ensuing circuit prior to the No. 24 machine cutting a tire and immediately slowing down in front of Burton, leaving the No. 31 driver no where to go but only to run into the back of the him. The contact brought out the final caution of the day but the extended delay allowed Burton to visit the pit box on two separate occasions to replace tires, assess the damage and then return to repair the dented hood.
He returned to competition 26th in the running order with 41 laps remaining but, with an aerodynamically-challenged race car coupled with a deep-in-the-field position, the handling on the black and yellow machine and traffic made it hard for Burton to make any headway, leaving them with a less-than-desired 24th-place result.
RCR teammate Kevin Harvick captured his third victory of the season in manufacturer GM's backyard, giving Earnhardt-Childress Racing Engines their second consecutive triumph. Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth closed out the top-five finishers.
Fellow RCR stablemate Clint Bowyer finished 13th.
NASCAR's senior circuit returns to 'World's Fastest Half Mile,' located in Bristol, Tenn., the site of RCR's first ever 1-2-3 finish in March 2008 when Burton took the checkers with Harvick and Bowyer in tow.
"We had a fast No. 31 Cat Financial Chevrolet but got caught up in an unfortunate situation when the (No.) 24 cut a tire. We were running behind (Jeff) Gordon when it happened and when he slowed, I got in the back of him. The hood on the No. 31 Chevy was damaged and, because of that, we weren't able to get back up front. Michigan hasn't been a good race track for us in the past so we should all be happy that, prior to the incident, we were able to run inside the top 10."